The Best Russian Books in English

Forget War and Peace: this blog offers reviews of fun and interesting Russian books in English, links to their Amazon pages, interviews with new and upcoming Russian authors, with the emphasis on Russian genre fiction: LitRPG, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, romance, mystery and other popular reads.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

TransLit Books: more fun and interesting Russian books in translation

Just a quick announcement to tell you that TransLit Books - the publishing house specializing in foreign fiction in translation - is about to put up a few new Russian titles on Amazon. In the meantime, a new dual-language version of Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment has been added here:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Russian/Ukrainian Treasures: A Christmas Tree Decoration Factory

Hi guys,

I came across these links as I researched my yet another next article on the history of Christmas in Russia and I absolutely have to show you this! A filmed story - or rather, what looks like two independently made stories - about what seems to be the same place: the Klavdievskaya factory of Christmas ornaments in Kiiv, Ukraine. Aww, you've got to see how this Christmas beauty is made!

Both come from English, the daily updated site that stores gazillions of Russian and Soviet photos in its themed archives. is the place to study Russia's history and culture and marvel at various period-related trivia.


Christmas Tree Decoration Factory

Klavdievskaya Factory of Christmas Tree Decorations

This is the factory:

And this is the produce:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Memoria on Goodreads

Memoria. A Corporation of LiesMemoria. A Corporation of Lies by Alex Bobl

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This noir take on a dystopian USA will appeal to all those who take today's technological advances seriously enough. Imagine a perfect state where even a serial killer can be turned into a cute and cuddly law-abiding citizen, thanks to the obligatory memory cleanse. Imagine a government that claims it can make everyone happy in a crime-free New York, safe in the care of the allmighty Memoria corporation.

Not so crime-free, apparently, otherwise who would want to kill off one of Memoria's top neuroscientists? And what's Frank Shelby got to do with it, a quiet law-abiding citizen who's long forgotten his teenage fighting classes and who is now accused of the murder? The last thing he needs is a dystopian nightmare on his head, but that's what he gets when he ventures into the can of worms called Memoria's HQ.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Memoria. A Corporation of Lies on Amazon!

Hi all! I was away for the last few days and couldn't get to the computer earlier, but in my absence, Memoria. A Corporation of Lies, a science fiction action adventure thriller by Alex Bobl, went live on Amazon and is selling!

I promise to write an in-depth review one of these days but my first impression is that this is a good book - literally. This is a story of honest, fearless, brave people taking a stand against a powerful and well-connected evil. It starts as a hard-boiled dystopian adventure of a hunted outlaw - a Russian reviewer went as far as to call Alex Bobl's Memoria a noir technothriller - but very soon the author's natural optimism and positivity took the better of him. A reader in an Amazon discussion called this book "The Three Musketeers in a SF setting", and he's probably right. This is a book about friendship, honor and courage fighting a powerful and cunning ill will. Great news for all of us who haven't yet lost faith in human nature: thanks to writers like Alex Bobl, we have hope that all is not yet lost.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Memoria by Alex Bobl is available on Smashwords!

A pre-launch party! Get yourself a drink and join us at Memoria at Smashwords to celebrate this new SF action adventure from science fiction author Alex Bobl!

When they learn to erase our memories,
When we dismiss violence and deceit as things of the past,
When wars become history we can't remember -

One man will challenge the new order
Because he remembers who he truly is.

Come and grab your copy, fresh from the virtual press!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Memoria by Alex Bobl: a book trailer. Soon on Amazon!

Great news! Memoria. A Corporation of Lies, a dystopian action adventure novel by Alex Bobl, is out in about two weeks on Amazon. In the meantime, the book trailer has been released and is available on YouTube.

Set in a futuristic New York recovering after a devastating resources war, Memoria. A Corporation of Lies tells the story of Frank Shelby, a humble citizen who confronts the almighty Memoria Corporation that makes billions by erasing people's traumatic memories. As all Alex Bobl's novels, this hard-boiled science fiction thriller celebrates the triumph of integrity and friendship over corruption and ill will. The translation is now finished, and in another two weeks the book should appear on Amazon. In the meantime, the trailer:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Great Review of Apocalyptic and Dystopian Russian Fiction at Reflexiones Finales

Russell1200, a renowned connoisseur of all things apocalyptic, has published this article at his Reflexiones Finales - the blog discussing potential apocalypse scenarios. The article, Russian Apocalyptic, offers an insightful overview of Russian PA fiction and includes some interesting links to other sources. Very enlightening and enjoyable!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Interview with a Post-Apocalyptic Author Andrei Levitski

When I have a bit more time, I promise to interview Andrei myself - after all, he helped me so much when I was working on my first SF novel, The Astronauts. My book is due out this summer (fingers crossed!), and in the meantime, here's a link to another interview with Andrei Levitski, a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series author and co-creator of TechnoTma:

Interview with a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and TechnoTma author Andrei Levitski

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Back in the USSR! A 1985 confidential list of banned Western bands

It's common knowledge that the Soviet leaders made sure that no Western propaganda crossed the Russian borders in any shape or form... and that included Western music first and foremost. Here's a copy of an authentic confidential document, dated January 10, 1985, issued by a local regional committee of Ukraine's (then part of the USSR) Young Communists' League for office use only.

In it, the committee secretary P. Grishin lists several Western bands and performers whose influence he believes to be corrupting and "recommends" (read: commands) to "consider" (read: ban). Well, he's not the first culture censor in history and definitely not the last... but I have a funny feeling that neither he nor his aides who had actually compiled the list for him had any idea what they were talking about...

I attach the copy of the list below, and here're just a few samples of the Western artists' utterly corrupting influence:

Pink Floyd - distorts the Soviet foreign policy, "Soviet aggression in Afghanistan"  
Julio Iglesias - neo-Nazism (eh?) 
Village People - violence (I have another name for it, but whatever turns him on...) 
Talking Heads - they spread the myth of the Soviet military threat  
10cc - neo-Nazism (eh?) 
Blondie - violence
Tina Turner - sex
Donna Summer - eroticism (I have a funny feeling his aides didn't know the difference... RIP, dear Donna...) 
Canned Heat - homosexuality (what? (Looks back up the list) But... I thought that... Ah, whatever.)

The list also includes most classic heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath and Nazareth for "violence, sadism, vandalism, neo-Nazism and religious superstition".

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Voice of Waterfalls - a psychological thriller by Natasha Salnikova

I absolutely have to feature this book even though a week ago I didn't even know it existed. I knew that Natasha Salnikova - a renowned Russian TV journalist now living in the USA - had put up a book or two on Kindle. What I didn't realize was that they were THAT good.

The Voice of Waterfalls tells a chilling story of a girl who escaped from an illegal brothel only to discover she'd got out of the frying pan into the fire... figuratively speaking of course, although fire would have probably been a safer option. No spoilers - read it for yourselves if you want to know what happened next... I personally wasn't able to put the bloody book down. Natasha's writing is remarkably strong and preserves occasional quirks of her mother tongue which add some extra charisma to the reading experience. Great book!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Brief History of Russian Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction

My article about Russian PA fiction has been published at, the leading site for all things post-apocalyptic. In it, I speak about such milestones of Russian post-apocalyptic and dystopian science fiction as We (Modern Library Classics), Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics), Metro 2033, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R novel series and one of its authors, Russian science fiction writer Alex Bobl, etc etc.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Russian Post Apocalyptic Science Fiction: interview with Alex Bobl

Recently, Russian science fiction writer Alex Bobl, a co-author of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and TechnoTma post-apocalyptic series, gave me an interview for Suite 101 magazine. Here's the opening and the link to the full story:

Alex Bobl is young, Russian and prolific. A science fiction writer specializing in post-apocalyptic action and adventure, he's written and co-written thirteen novels in the last three years. Today, Alex Bobl speaks about his writing and his last novel, Memoria. A Corporation of Lies, due to be published in English this summer. Read more

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Russian Post-Apocalyptic Fiction: A New Zombie Novel

As promised, more fun and interesting Russian books in English!

Describing the consequences of a Russian zombie outbreak, Call Me Human: A Zombie Apocalypse Novelis a new book from a Russian SF and fantasy author Sergei Marysh which has already received some very positive reviews on Amazon. Readers admit that Call Me Human is "one of the more realistic zombie novels", they "loved the sci-fi/philosophical way this story ended up" and describe it as "a very well written novel and easy to read".

I'm terribly pleased to hear it considering I did the translation and now I'm overjoyed to see Sergei's book doing so well. He is a very special author and a very fine person so he deserves every word of praise for Call Me Human. I recommend it: it's a refreshingly different book that offers a new explanation of a zombie outbreak, as well as a few quite straightforward insights into the human nature. Enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Across Siberia Alone: a book that can't be missed!

Hi guys,

Across Siberia Alone; An American Woman's Adventureswas originally published in 1914 and offers a unique cross-section of the pre-WWI Russian society. The author, Helena Crumett Lee, gives a rich, detailed and unbiased view of the Russian Empire as she travels from China through Siberia to Moscow. She pays especial attention to money and leaves us a priceless (literally) report about the cost of living in the early 1910s Russia.

This book is a treasure trove for anyone who wants to write about the period. The links here are to the site because, for some reason, the book is muuuch cheaper there than it is in the US. I'm very excited because I collect this sort of first-hand testimonies which are each worth a thousand history books.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Read Russian Books in English has gone live!

This new blog offers fun and interesting Russian reading suggestions. So to mark the event (whoopee, we're on Google!), here's a lovely Russian magic realism novel for you.

Danilov, the violist: A novelby Vladimir Orlov is an amazing story of a half-man, half-demon. The unfortunate result of a love story between a human and a demon, Danilov doesn't really belong to either world, although he diligently visits both and has responsibilities both in Moscow and in the offices of hell. When the book first came out in Russia in (I believe) 1987, it became an overnight success, a must-read cult novel. A talented musician, Danilov tries hard to prove that he doesn't need his demonic powers to succeed: he wants to be appreciated as a human being. Lots of adventures as powers of hell put a price on his head... this book is a winning combination of dark horror, wholehearted humor, exquisitely lyrical love pages, all submerged into an otherworldly atmosphere that can only be compared to that of Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita (Penguin Classics) . Danilov, the violist: A novelis a wonderful work of magic realism and I can't recommend it enough.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A gorgeous book of Russian folk songs with English translations and sheet music

I knew I'd find it if I looked hard enough! :)

A professional singer and musician in my pre-writing days, I still have a passion for folk songs. This book, A Russian Song Book (Dover Song Collections) has English translations as well as the original Russian lyrics, and the music to go with it. I'm very happy, especially as at the moment, I'm working on my own book of Russian Christmas carols. Those boring conservatoire years are coming in handy, after all :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Best Russian Fairy Tales in English

On Kindle, with absolutely gorgeous illustrations, the best Russian fairy tales I remember from my own childhood:Russian Fairy Tales - Skazki (Illustrated)
There're lots more of them in Russia but these are the essence of the Russian folk culture, all about magic, talking beasts and cunning evil wizards. For $1.95 it's the bargain of the century. Don't fool yourself thinking there're only seven of them because they're all long -- way too long for a bedtime story but perfect to be told night after night on  those long village evenings... this is the stuff some illiterate but creative people came up with before books and television!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Read Russian Books in English update: fun and interesting Russian reads

Hi all,

For some reason, my new blog Read Russian Books in English does not come up in web searches, so here's a quick update!

New fun and interesting Russian books added:

Beemby Gavriil Troepolsky, a short novel depicting tribulations of a lost dog looking for his master. If this story doesn't break your heart, nothing will :)

Crimson Sailsby Alexander Grin, a fantasy romance about Soll - a young girl destined to live out a prophecy made by a traveling storyteller. One of Russia's most treasured books ever.

The Amphibianby Alexander Belyaev, a leading Russian pre-war science fiction author. A short novel set in the 1920s Argentina tells the story of a mad scientist who subjects his adoptive son to a revolutionary experiment... then lives with its consequences. Made into a cult movie The Amphibian Manin 1962.

Enjoy! There're more books on Read Russian Books in English: not many as the blog is only three days old, but I intend to add hundreds more as soon as I can!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fun and interesting Russian books in English (continued)

Get your Kleenex out!  Beemis a story of love and devotion between a dog (Beem) and his owner. When the owner is put into hospital, the pining dog escapes looking for him... a powerful eye-opener into our true selves as Beem meets all sorts of people in his travels, both good and bad ones...

A great review on Amazon from Boris E. Rowe... read this book and you'll never be the same.

Read Russian Books in English: fun and interesting reads

Forget War and Peace: Read Russian Books in English offers information about new, fun and interesting Russian books in all genres, primarily science fiction, fantasy, mystery and romance.

When I started Russia for Writers a few years ago, I meant it exclusively for those fiction writers who needed a bit of help with their Russian research. But over time, I developed the tendency to digress and, rather than speak about Russia, I wrote about new Russian writers instead. So I've decided to separate the two. Russia for Writers will from now on deal exclusively with the Russian history and culture, covering whatever I failed to mention in my book, The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Russia (Write It Right)

And Read Russian Books in English will be about just that: good Russian books in English, both new and old, which are worth reading and are fun to read. There I hope to interview new Russian writers and offer you lots of good reading suggestions. Because believe you me, the Russian literature is not limited to five or six classic titles, bah! There're lots of good Russian books translated into English, and I intend to cover as many as I can over time.

But I'll still be posting updates here until Read Russian Books in English gets an audience all of its own.  Feel free to pop by and check a few titles you've never heard about before!

Friday, April 6, 2012

A native reader's list of five must-read Russian books in English

Yeah yeah, I know. I'm not going to suggest any of the good old classic titles. War and Peace, Anna Karenina, Master and Margarita, Crime and Punishment, Brothers Karamazov and a few runners-up... you're quite capable of finding them online without me. What I would like to do is direct you towards a few Russian books which are equally good but more fun. Something you haven't heard about. So here goes: a list of my favorite Russian books in English. 

1. Crimson Sailsis a short fantasy novel of love, faith and a life-changing dream that has been nourishing generations of Russian readers. Set in a seaside neverland, it tells the story of Soll: a young girl who lives out a prophecy dreamed-up by a traveling storyteller. A classic in a league of its own, available on Kindle.

 2. The Amphibian This is another fun-and-interesting classic, this time from a pre-war science fiction author Alexander Belyaev. His novels and short stories were remarkable for their dark horror side taken with a healthy dollop of humor. Set in the 1920s Argentina, The Amphibian tells the story of a mad scientist subjecting his adoptive son to a rather cruel experiment... which proved to be a total literary success. In the 1960s, the novel was made into a cult movie The Amphibian Man which, while far removed from the original story, is a delightful work in its own right.

To be continued!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Grand Duchess Natalia Alexeyevna, first wife of Paul I

Born Princess Wilhelmine of Hesse-Darmstadt, Grand Duchess Natalia Alexeyevna died in labor when her husband, the future Russian Emperor Paul I, was still a crown prince with little hope to ever lay his hands on the Russian crown.

As I worked on the article about her for Gilbert's Royal Russia Annual, I had to dig deep into lots of first-hand sources: memoirs, contemporary accounts and private letters. They confirmed my initial suspicions that the dirty rumors about Natalia's affair with Paul's best friend, Count Andrei Razumovsky, which many of today's researchers take for a solid fact and spare no bile in condemning the young woman, found absolutely no confirmation in contemporaries' accounts.

Which is more, the rumor itself only started after Natalia's torturous death in labor, and very conveniently served the purpose of removing all of Catherine the Great's ill-wishers, starting with Razumovsky himself, from court.

In fact, contemporary chroniclers, namely D.I. Fonvisin and Chevalier de Corberon, who left detailed accounts of Natalia's last days, unanimously pointed out that the very idea of Natalia's possible adultery hadn't crossed anyone's mind until several days after her death. The news came as a complete surprise to all who knew her.

No one at the time could confirm the existence of the hypothetical "compromising letters" that - as rumors claimed - Catherine had supposedly found in her late daughter-in-law's secret chest. But it's true that they gave Catherine a perfect excuse to get rid of Razumovsky and a few others.

I have unearthed lots of little-known facts so I hope the article will be quite interesting.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

So! Post No1!

Hello all,

When I started my blog Russia for Writers a few years ago, I meant it exclusively for those fiction writers who needed a bit of help with their Russian research. But over time, I developed the tendency to digress and, rather than speak about Russia, I wrote about new Russian writers instead. So today I decided to separate the two. My blog Russia for Writers will from now on deal exclusively with the Russian history and culture, covering whatever I failed to mention in my book, The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Russia (Write It Right)

And this blog here will be all about Russian books in English. Here I hope to interview new Russian writers and offer you some reading suggestions. Because believe you me, the Russian literature is not limited to five or six classic titles. There're lots of good Russian books translated into English, and I intend to cover as many as I can over time.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Treasure discovered in St Petersburg

This is the stuff B-movies are made of: a team of builders restoring a St Petersburg palace has discovered a buried treasure in the cellar when they broke into what turned out to be a secret bricked-in niche. The 29 Tchaïkovsky Street mansion that once belonged to the Naryshkin family - one of the richest and most influential at the Tzar's court - concealed over a thousand pieces of silverware, table china and jewelry, including some rare first world war military decorations complete with paperwork which must cost a fortune these days.

Apparently, the Naryshkins' household treasures were painstakingly packed and stored away in the wake of the Socialist Revolution of 1917. Some of the items, particularly several military decorations, belonged to Lieutenant Sergei Sergeevich Somov, a distant relative of the Naryshkins. He died on February 12 1976 in Paris, apparently leaving no relatives. The Naryshkins themselves have no surviving offspring, either. In this case, 50% of the treasure's worth will be paid to the workers who found it, and the other half will go to the Russian state.

The treasure will be moved to one of St Petersburg's numerous art museums once a suitable alarm system is installed there. In the meantime, it is in the care of the police.

To see pictures of the treasure, click here

Monday, March 5, 2012

Post-Apocalyptic Art: Introducing bestselling Russian SF author Alex Bobl

Hi there! Alex Bobl who became known as a co-author of a hugely popular Russian SF project S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (not to be confused with Stalker: A Film by Andrei Tarkovsky although greatly inspired by it) later went on to work on an eight-novel post-apocalyptic series, Technotma: the Dark Times. In it, Alex Bobl and co-author Andrei Levitsky create an eerie world where the Black Sea has become a major desert and all that's left of the Crimea Peninsula is a single mountain.

There are some talks now about translating some of the Technotma books into English. In the meantime, two of his last standalone novels are available on Amazon, with cover art from Russia's leading post apocalyptic artist Vladimir Manyukhin:

A high tech adventure set in a near-future world, Point Apocalypse tells the story of Mark Posner, a court-martialled Russian army soldier (no spoilers, LOL) who has to escape the post-apocalyptic prison world of Continent Anomalous. Rife with mutated wildlife and ruthless enemies, this newly-discovered planet now threatens the unstable dystopian Earth with destruction unless Mark and his comrades in arms manage to stand in the evil overlords' way.

In a futuristic bombed-out New York, the almighty Memoria Corporation helps people erase their traumatic memories. What else would you need in a world free from wars and crime? But the bubble bursts when a humble citizen Frank Shelby becomes a murder suspect on the run. Betrayed by his friends and hunted down by mysterious killers, Frank has to penetrate Memoria and find evidence of their real plans before it's too late for all of us.

Finally, a post-apocalyptic picture by an outstanding Russian book illustrator Ivan Khivrenko - just one of those breathtaking science fiction images that illustrate Technotma novels (you can see more post-apocalyptic artwork in Alex's blog, Obviously Incredible):

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Desperately seeking David Aramor (pen name) a.k.a. David J. Williams (real name)!!!

David Aramor (real name David Jonathan Williams), the author of novella Free Fall that went through the Critters workshop in 2001 - where are you??

Free Fall, David's highly talented and atmospheric piece, has just come out in Russia (translated by yours truly) as part of Weatherboard Spaceship: The Anthology of Today's English-Language Science Fiction, published by Milky Way Publishers. But one of the authors is missing! Dave Aramor's email addresses bounce and he's nowhere to be found.

Please he-e-e-e-elp!!! :-)

And here's the anthology itself:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Absolutely cool Ancient Slavic calendar

The number 7520 below the clock is the current year "from Creation" (I write about it in my book, The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Russia)

The old Slavic time system had 16 hours in a day (as opposed to our 24 hours), starting at sunset. In this cool clock the beginning of a new day is set at 6 p.m. Moscow time. Every hour was divided further into 144 parts. One part contained 1296 beats.

The year had three seasons: springtime, winter and autumn (what's summer in Russia, anyway? Blink and you'll miss it!) and nine months with totally unpronounceable but weirdly Celtic names.

Courtesy of and

Zombies come to Russia! Or shamelessly blowing my own trumpet

Call Me Human: A Zombie Apocalypse Novelis a new Kindle addition from a wonderful Russian author Sergei Marysh in my (hopefully, not so bad, either :)) translation into English. Call Me Human: A Zombie Apocalypse Novelis a strangely believable book written for a more emphatic audience who look for an emotional experience rather than a straightforward scare. The story of a brave but unfortunate Igor Bernik who grows more human as he turns into a zombie is weirdly realistic, and the author's explanation of zombies' nature is very novel, if you'll excuse the pun.

I read it, translated it, and I loved it (otherwise I wouldn't have translated it). Hope you'll enjoy it, too. Congrats to Sergei on his Kindle debut!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Haz Book!

Alert Alert!

The second edition of The 33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make About Russia is out at A Conspiracy of Authors and is currently available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords!

Below is the book on Kindle:

Kindle also includes a generous sample of the book so you can take a look and tell me if you think it's useful or not.

Happy reading!

(And I'm back, butt in chair, to my SF murder mystery...)